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practice NO: Report reveals the need for more investment in healthcare ICT

NO: Report reveals the need for more investment in healthcare ICT

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Posting Date
22 February 2011
Last Edited Date
22 February 2011
Submitted By
ePractice Editorial Team (EUROPEAN DYNAMICS SA) | Belgium

According to a report conducted by an international consulting company on behalf of the Norwegian Medical Association and Nurses, data systems in Norwegian healthcare should be further developed and standardised so that healthcare staff can easily communicate via a secure network.

The report, presented to Robin Kåss, State Secretary in the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services in February 2011, shows that if ICT systems work better in healthcare, patients will receive both faster and safer treatment. The Norwegian hospitals invest about 1.6 % of disposable assets in ICT, an amount smaller than the one invested in hospitals by the neighbouring Nordic countries.

Improved ICT systems will facilitate patients' and healthcare professionals' timely access to important medical information and this will be crucial for the quality of assistance provided. Efficient systems also safeguard privacy and provide security for both patients and healthcare staff. Furthermore, improved ICT tools can, for example, reduce possible harm related to drug misuse.

While 'interaction' is the key to effective use of health resources, the limited investment in technology, that could make collaboration and sharing of information for medical staff easier, is quite a paradox. Health professionals are struggling most of the time with old and cumbersome systems that require extra work. For instance, during the admission for surgery doctors take patients' medical records and then nurses report the same information. The surgical nurse has a special form to fill out and the same applies to the team of anaesthesia. An ICT standardised system could drastically improve information logistics.

According to the same report, regional health authorities (RHF) have received a clear message: long-term measures may increase quality and effectiveness in the long run while short-term measures improve the operational situation here and now.

The RHFs plan to boost ICT investment with NOK 6.7 billion (approx. €855 million) up to 2014. ICT changes in regional health are considered to be more costly, and various concerns have been expressed on whether the real needs can be covered within the current investment framework. In addition, it is known that computer systems represent only a portion of the cost; training has a significant cost too.

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